Posts Tagged ‘Eugenics’

X-marks the question?

Posted: September 3, 2019 by Ty in Spirituality
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Ah ethics, bio-ethics. Anyone who has dived into a helping profession, human services, science, medicine or even religious studies knows the conundrums. There has been many times all these fields have been proven to be on the wrong side of history in regards to the human condition, and the full personhood (Imageo Dei for us of the Christian persuasion). The Star Trek series touched on the dark outcome of the practice of Eugenics, with the Eugenics War, the original Episode, Space Seed, and Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan. Eugenics is the nasty practice the world believed in that gave rise to Naziism and their final solutions for LGBT folks, Jewish, Roma, multiple births and persons with disabilities (13 million). The thrust of the storyline within Star Trek is how the perfection was corrupted, and that the diversity of the world was loss. It was within our diversity that victory was held, and the old concepts of breeding to purity was blown out of space over the Genesis planet.

Yet, it still rears its ugly head today. This concept of racial superiority has sadly still stuck around, and we see the 2-3% of the People’s Party of Canada base attempting a resurgence, and Scheer, the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada not wanting to call it out for fear of losing his base. Yet, there is something as insidious, within the work towards full inclusion. Through the way we have crafted our world, chasing the funding dollars, and trying to get on the “agenda” for personhood to be noticed– we have created a stratification within those seen as vulnerable. That further breaks down the voice.

It all starts to come down to the chaos theory purported in Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, and the echoing question of just because we could, no one stopped to ask if we should?

How does this fit in?

Simple, like Star Trek (and many other series), Marvel’s X-Men have told a social-political justice story of the battle for equality and inclusion. In the 1960’s it was a very thinly veiled commentary on the rights movements of African Americans, though one could have the Mutants used for any group that has had to fight to be recognized as full persons- Indigenous, Women, etc. In the later decades they became stand ins for the societal debate of LGBTTQ2+ and Persons with Disabilities. No more jarringly so that Joss Whedon and John Cassady’s opening story arc of Astonishing X-men: Gifted (single issues, graphic novel, motion comic) that I found the novelization of by Peter David in the book section of Dollarama (who can turn down a $4 Peter David adventure?).

What is Gifted?

It is an ethical question that has been put forward multiple times in the debate of conversion therapy, seclusion rooms, eugenics, and put forward in disability studies classrooms and queer theology–

If there was a pill you could take to “cure” you, would you?

Dr. Kativa Rao now has that cure pill for Mutants. The questions begin to be asked:

  1. Who decides on use? The individual? The family? The government?
  2. Would it ever be forced upon someone?
  3. Is Mutation an illness or a part of how you are? (Now men, remember in genetics, we are the broken x-chromosome-that is we are the mutation).

The magic pill question of ethics, not in the crux of 4 colour worlds. Pointing out that the drive to discover the genetic map for anything is the drive to erase or eradicate. So, what does that mean for our scientific world within the scope of should and could?

It is a unique time, as we are the mutants in the story. We have so divided the human family based around labels and codes, that each and everyone of us some day could be asked the “cure question” for what we are seen as not “typical”. The tension of the story being when two founding members stood on different sides of the divide on using the Cure (Beast & Cyclops), but like with any genetic research what foundation of horrors is the cure built upon?

These words by Peter David in the book, are deeply about personhood:

The X-Men had always been symbols of what people could accomplish when they were forced to adjust to strange, new abilities. Bit if there was a new reality where mutants din’t have to adjust…

…why should they be forced to?

Symbols were all well and good, but all the X-Men were–all they really were–were examples of what mutants could be if the chose to live their lives as mutants. Rather than allow themselves to be beaten down by society, mutants could band together and create a world where they lived in solidarity with each other and drew strength from that. A strength that would enable them to survive long enough for society to realize that mutants were simply different, not enemies. (p.249).

And that is the crux, my son is a super hero, I have gone through my own journey of recovery and rebirth. Would it have been easy to simply take a “cure” and be “normal”? Possibly, but in that moment of “cure” we have lost the beauty of who we are, and the journey we are one…a journey to be. And in being but one piece in the beautiful mosaic that is the world.

That is the true cure, removing the stigma from our own selves, the apprehension and fear of the different, and embracing our neighbours and finally, realizing and knowing, we are in this together.

 


Christopher L. Bennett’s Star Trek Enterprise Rise of the Federation: Live by the Code (Pocket Books, 2016) raises the ethical dilemma in a pre-Prime Directive Star Trek Universe. For the non-initiated (or those who live without fun), the Prime Directive is the oft-shrugged away rule of non-interference that the United Federation of Planets abides by in pre-first contact interactions.

As this series has come together, it challenges the early Federation (Earth-Vulcans-Tellarites-Andorians) working together on how to bring their different methods, values and ethics together as they continue to explore the Universe and face challenges. Among them a capitalist AI run amok- The Ware Corporation.

We all try to live according to our principles, but we cannot control whether history will remember us as heroes or villains. Sometimes, those of us who take the boldest actions in support of our beliefs are destined to be remembered as both.

-Samuel A. Kirk, The Forgotten Enterprise (2190)

It is a technology that replaced all sentient species on its home world from the work-exploration forces, and now out in the galaxy to continue its growth requires sentient brains to survive and grow. Hence the dilemma, some stations are quite aggressive in seeking new “fuel” sources. While others are in a forced symbiosis with the Partnership. A collection of pre-warp cultures/worlds that have found a way to not be used up (die) as fuel for the Ware, but find a way to switch volunteers in and out of the system. Thus having their societies benefit from actual technology though living in constant fear of what had come before. It is on the Federation’s Radar with Captains T’Pol and Reed, due to the aggressive nature of the technology and trying to end its spread.

An ethical dilemma for the species in the Partnership would not be where they are technologically without the Ware, yet the Ware had decimated much around them, and as a result of the Partnership, had brought war from neighbouring planets. Ends and Means. Is it worth the price? What if the Federation does not stop its spread?

While the cube squeezes tightly as the Klingon Empire on the brink of civil war due to an augment disease that had created humanesque Klingons (think those from the original t.v. show) who function as privateers of the space-ways but now see their way with the Ware to conquest of their home world.

While the Matriarchal Orion Syndicate squeezes the ethical standard of the Federation more by forcing a possible hand where they must decide in propping up dictators for needed supplies or not.

There are no ideal solution.s here, Jonathan. You should’ve learned that by now. When the galaxy is falling down around you, you have to prioritize whom to save.

-Shran (p.233)

And yes, Shran and Archer’s ethical conversations continue as to what direction needs to be taken as the galaxy is on the precipice of chaos fueled by hate over hope once more. The galaxy’s struggle brought down to a family microcosm on Denobula, as Dr. Phlox’s daughter is to be wed to her second husband (of three, Denobulans are Polyamorous, in which each wife has 3 husbands, and each husband 3 wives). This daughter has stepped out of the protectionist practices of Denobula and has married a human, and now an Antarran (for the second think of a British Protestant marrying an Irish Catholic in Northern Ireland in the mid-20th century). As hate attempts to disrupt wedding with a less enlightened sibling who murders her soon to be father-in-law.

The question left hanging is what is forgiveness, reconciliation and family? Do actions define an individual?

And when the roles become reversed, can mercy be found?

Yes, a few more spoilers than I like in a reflection, but it is to show what diving in to a story can raise question wise. Many outcomes are reached by surrendering what we hold to be true. And the flip is that many outcomes can be lost due to holding what we hold to be true.

For the reader, the ethical dilemma may be a trite soundbite in this day and age, but the adage is more of a reflection for each of us:

Do the ends justify the means?

Or, will the means leave lasting harmful repercussions that even if the result is good, was it worth it?


Thank you for inviting me to discuss belonging. This is a lifetime way of life for my family and me, that has left its physical, emotional and spiritual scars upon me. I was not designed for typical church. I was formed in the teachings of St. Francis and Clare of Assisi as a Franciscan, but was mentored by Basillians and Jesuits, and those that were of the social gospel, and sprung from the social gospel. The monastics, like Francis, Clare, Basil and Ignatius…they were of those that cared radically for their neighbour. Serving and learning in those communities, I was able to be apart of the radical love of neighbour that acted in such movements as the social gospel that sprung workers rights, women’s rights, that liberation theology would come from, that would have seeds in the fall of the Berlin Wall as John Paul II pushed for it, and Desmond Tutu in the end of Apartheid. The radical love I got to see in Calgary outside of the shelter system was at the community level. I speak of church families, where they realized families were staying in their church, and it struck the Holy Spirit within them…how do these neighbours shower? it struck on a Saturday, and on a Sunday the plumbers were in building the showers, and the priest was speaking as collection was to pay the plumber currently constructing…or realizing that they could not have all members of the community participate due to lack of a lift…or the food cupboard was empty…and well, let’s say collection for the church budget or the need of neighbour was a living breathing spirit.

But like the social gospel, these orders also had a strain of theology that was offensive. It was quite blatant in the late 19th and early 20th century, in Alberta as late as the 1990’s; and that being eugenics. The active belief those not seen “as typical” by society are deficient and everything has to be actively worked towards to eliminate them, or exclude them.  There is still strong pockets of this from secular and spiritual movements, most notably seen this past summer, with the United Church Observer’s supported work to ban the plastic straw, a device specifically designed for persons with certain disabilities, and without its accessibility would mean death. Most often we just see its more passive, and prejudicial form, of Ableism, most blatantly on display this past General Council with Moderator Nominee Colin Phillips, who with his form of CP uses a wheelchair and speaking aid. He stated in his column after it was a council of awkwardness, and people not engaging-my heart hears, to engage means we have to change, and adapt.

There is beauty in our heritage, but bad theology around the healings of Brother Jesus of Nazareth, has allowed Ableism and eugenics to flourish within the church by oppression or omission of the full Image of God, Imageo Dei in the Latin. And by that omission, we are missing out on the time, talent, treasures and blessings that come with the full Imageo dei. It is from reading the healing stories from the perspective of needing to be healed to belong, not realizing they are about belonging because of the beautiful rainbow of God’s creation to paraphrase Archbishop Tutu. To paraphrase Tutu again, if persons with disabilities, mental health concerns, cognitive issues, on a spectrum ala Cerebral Palsy or Autism, etc. are not in the Kingdom, then it is a kingdom I want nothing to do with.

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Affirming Sunday Oct. 1, 2017 Leland putting up his colour

For the work of the Kingdom to continue in the beautiful tradition of My Neighbour, as J.S. Woodsworth wrote it, the sin of eugenics needed an exorcism. This is the work I have undertaken, in thought, word and deed. It led me through My Neighbour, to what today is being presented as the Spirituality of Belonging. Before we step into that, i just want to take a moment to thank Robert McClure Untied Church for including my family in your community for the past 18 months. We will remember C. coming and talking to Leland directly about Wonderkids, Justina teaching how Advent and Sacred Aboriginal Teachings go together, the Christmas Play, Leland’s moment at the affirming service to step out of the ableism of Christianity with his proud declaration of rainbow colour, “I won Nana”; and B’s wonderful Easter egg hunt balloons so all children could be apart of the fun. Today, you will be a part of my last teaching given in a United Church, as I stated at the beginning to get to this point has taken its toll, and the activeness of ableism and prejudices, have left me today going against my medical support teams wishes and

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“I won Nana”-Leland

presenting. As I opened with, a lifetime of working to build places of belonging for all Image Bearers has taken its toll on my system, let’s just say it has been messy and the worst humanity has to offer I have witnessed. But that is why this work if so important. For this is the next step after the exorcism. This is the spirituality of belonging as the church titled my presentation which has a nice resonance. Belonging is the ickiness of life and the scariest word you will hear today.

It is the next step. But we don’t get to belonging easily, for that carries too much. I designed a simple culmination, the Belonging Pyramid.

It is inverted. The first layer being Accessibility which is the removal of physical barriers. This is the crafting or re-crafting of space so individuals can enter and use. This is the piece where community partnerships matter, money flows, Thanksgiving offerings work, and  government grants can be used.

The next step is the wonderful word most communities stop on. “Inclusion”  it is such a warm and fuzzy buzz word. But it means we got space for you.

The hardest piece, and the smallest that can create tipping and allow for the exorcism to be reversed, is belonging. it is that authentic space where you love your neighbour as yourself and the Holy. It is that space where the ickiness exists, because, you need to look at all angles before making decisions, all ripple effects, you may have to take stands for your neighbour that take your out of comfort, or safety. It is also the space where you heart recognize that one day that space will be empty…

But we do not do it alone, for the Holy Spirit of love was breathed into us at creation, and we live out of it…and the pyramid itself is balanced in Agape.

So great lecture, now let’s do the work…I encourage you to get comfortable for we are going to do liturgy…thats latin for “work of the people” via theology….

Take a moment, centre yourself. Close your eyes. Breathe in deeply, exhale releasing the burdens of the day. When you feel you have breathed all the breath out, keep going, let the joys of the day out.

Enter into this space. Breathe in and exhale deeply twice more.

You are travelling to just outside the church. At the entrance to the parking lot.

Accessibility: Read John 9: 1.

A person with blindness. You are that differently abled person. Perhaps you require a mobility device-cane, scooter, wheel chair, walker; perhaps you experience the world through the lens of mental health: anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, PTSD, and on the list can go; perhaps a global delay, or you are on one of the diagnosis spectrums ala Autism or Cerebral Palsy; perhaps it is deafness or blindness. Here you are, complete and at the gates of a new community.

You have heard there is a farmer’s market. You cannot reach it. The hill has no access for your device, so you turn away home. Or you are able to enjoy the market but need the washroom. Someone has parked a truck blocking main doors. You are directed to a curb to step over to uneven ground to a small dark door. Your left side is weak and you know you cannot lift your leg up or you are in a wheel chair. You have a choice- soil yourself to stay or go home?

You are new to the neighbourhood using a good day of energy to explore, your spouse can drive but requires accessible permit parking. You have heard good things about this church, off a Sunday you see that they use their accessible permit spots to park bobcats. Obviously, there would be no guarantee on a Sunday they would not be used likewise, time to keep looking.

There’s a community garden, you have saved money to rent a spot, but you cannot get up onto the field where the plots are or easily maneuver to your plot? Not worth the hassle, just won’t be this year.

You stir up the courage to come to church one Sunday, only to reach the door and realize that you cannot reach the door handle to enter, and no one is around. You turn around.

Some would say this is not accessibility, but it is through the eyes of the codes, for everything up to that point as not seen as “illegal”, much the way the man with blindness experienced his world.

Inclusion: Read John 9:2.

The world of labels and diagnosis was designed so we could become inclusive. In the best environment it simply shows what is necessary for someone to be brought into the circle. In the worst, it allows for different barriers to be erected under the guise of “inclusion”.

That is the question being asked by the disciples; what is wrong with this guy? What caused it?

You arrive on a Sunday, and someone opens the door for you. Obviously, you can see where the sanctuary is, but how do you know where anything else is in the church? You are non-verbal, possibly use pics or words to know directions but nothing is labelled. No directional signs to the office; or rooms; or Sunday School or youth group, does this church have a library? You heard something in the announcements about the library having an event this week?

It is soup after church. No tables, your wheel chair does not have a tray, how do you balance? Or perhaps you have weakness in your hands? Seeing the heavy table to be brought out you don’t want to be a bother to ask.

Sadly during service you had an accident and now the fabric chair is ruined, but you don’t want to be yelled at again.

You or a parent/caregiver have been overstimulated due to the noise level of service or something else. You seek a quite space. Can’t use the nursery not a baby, and too much stimulation going by the Wonder Kids. Try any doors to find them all locked. Can’t calm yourself in the lobby. Time to go home, as usual even the tools you have you cannot use because locked doors are more important, but you are included as the building let you be “included”.

Communion Sunday, a holy time when all are to come forward and partake of the “Lord’s Supper”. But you cannot eat. You are not part of the Lord’s Supper or the family table, at least you are included.

People come to talk to you, nope, they are talking to those with you about you because… there is something different, or as disciples said, what is wrong with that person? What label can be put on them?

You decide to reach out and be included in small groups. Some do not understand that not everyone in your house drives so always doing things the way you have always done them means exclusion. You struggle one winter night to come out to learning circle, it is a rough night for your physical self. Church is low lit and you almost trip over the chair blocking the hallway with the “silence sign” on it. Or you can’t get around it with your wheel chair—so you go home.

Membership classes are offered…nothing on ages for membership. Nothing on child care. Your family can then not join together as one would have to come one year and the other next, for financially it is not there to afford child care for the weekend. But you have a seat in a sanctuary on Sunday morning.

A service on different prayer practices. Stations set up, cannot maneuvor a mobility device around to get to each, so sit silently and hope no one notices you.

Feedback on sound system that can trigger convulsive brain activity or flashbacks from trauma.

Exceptionally loud music compared to speaking that can overstimulate a mind that is not neuro-typical.

There’s a youth group. Nothing about ages or when it is or who to connect with. You may fit but are afraid of rejection because so many churches before have told you you do not belong.

But like the blind man of the story, or women of the time, you are allowed to come hear about the Holy, just not be in the whole presence of. But you are included.

Belonging: Read John 9: 3

There are those that have shared the journey, that share grieving, and celebrate life together. There is a rhythm on the “way things have always been done” so if you have always been here, much like the disciples, you got the norms of the place and time. Jesus looks at you and does not see the labels, the diagnosis, the worldly prognosis; or whatever other b.s. (belief system or the farm term if you prefer) the world puts on you.

Jesus flips it to the heart of the matter. You are here to shine through the glory of God.

Genesis 1:27-28 (read it) the Holy Breath is within you. You are created just the way you are meant to be, in a perfect reflection of God.

It was Jesus pointing to the world and going, YOU BELONG because YOU ARE. Any healing done after that was because of how dull the hearers were and the risk they were placing a child of God’s life at due to their ignorance.

But as you rhythmically breathe back into the now of your community. Breathe in the Command Jesus gave us. Love. Breathe it in deeply, breathe it out deeply.

Do this three times, and rest in the presence of Love. Or Agape as it was termed.

Rest in that Agape, and when you are ready come back.

(Once all are back).

It is fairly simple, we can discuss accessibility, we can discuss inclusion. Those things already happen, I took you through the eyes of the one experiencing what is. The physical building can be as pretty as one wants it to be. Universally designed as much as we want it to be and is able for a 30ish year old property. We can have someone open the door or prop it open so everyone can come claim their seat on a Sunday. We can attain everything up to code and function so the circle is drawn wide for inclusion.

BUT, and this is a big but. If we are still the disciples pointing and asking the question, or not making eye contact…we are having adventures in missing the point. The point is belonging. Authentic longing, based on the love Jesus showed in this story. The scary thing of belonging especially within the differently-abled/persons with disabilities/mental health/medically complex (let them pick their descriptor) is that there may be no warning and suddenly…

Their spot is empty. That is why we create barriers and labels. You have now experienced different perspective, the thoughts on building agape belonging is upon you or remain in the status quo.

 

Within your groups take a moment to pause and reflect:

 

  1. What did your heart hear in this experience?
  1. Where does that feeling reveal you to be within the pyramid?

 

Accountability: 

Consider, what you can do to create a spirituality of belonging this week. One little step within your own community. Share with your group, and come back and share next week with them how it went.

Children’s Time

You Are, You Belong

Image result for Brad Meltzer's I am Helen KellerOur stories start with a beautiful poem of Great Creator making all. It speaks to us that when each of us was created it was in their image, and breathed into with blessing. Today, I am going to let you meet one of Creator’s images and blessings.

Start with the last page: I am Helen Keller, I won’t let anything stop me.

Helen was born both deaf and blind, if you cover your ears and close your eyes, that was how she knew her world. Her own relatives believed her to be a monster. Yet she didn’t stop wanting to let the world know the love she had inside. Her family, her tutor helped her discover how to communicate in her own way. She would go on to shatter her world’s old way of seeing things.

What are ways your family or friends have helped you?

Helen learned to communicate through signs, by being shown through touch.

She realized people needed help. She fed the hungry, grew schools to help those who were told they couldn’t to learn.

What is one thing you can do to make your school or home or church more welcoming?

Read the last few pages…

Closing prayer: Thank you Creator for the wonderfulness of difference, that each of us is lovingly blessed to be who we are meant and created to be. Amen.


Much of my soul work throughout my life has been exorcising an abhorrent SIN from the amazing work of the gospel found in the Monastic Orders (Franciscan, Basillian, Jesuit) and Social Gospels that have formed me. That unnamed SIN (that is denigration of the Creator’s image, and Holy Breath of life in each of us) is EUGENICS. I wrote a response letter to the national magazine of the United Church of Canada. First hand I have witnessed, and taken the brunt of the active ableism and passive eugenics thought still existing in the institution. This has what was published (and they could not even spell my name right) and following is what was submitted…you can judge if the essence was captured or something missed:

Published September 2018:

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Submitted June 2018 via e-mail:
I must say that Rev. Cantwell is right, the UCC (and Christianities in general) have a lot more listening to do. well it is admirable to touch on the much needed work of reconciliation through TRC and affirming ministries there is still a piece of our history we allow to passively exist.
EUGENICS.
More colloquially known in its form today as “Ableism”. It is the belief that Persons with Disabilities (speical needs, differently abled, let the person let you know how they identify) are “less than human”. It is the dark shadow side of the Social Gospel movement that spurred such good societal change such as suffrage, human rights, labour rights, etc. It is the idea because we view them as less than it is okay to hide our neighbour away in institutions, remain silent on their #metoo, do not allow health sexuality to be discussed, in our very recent history in Canada still forcibly sterilized, and encourage aborting. It is also why there is an undercurrent within congregations where they feel it is okay to passively inform families you do not belong here, we do not want you here, we cannot handle your care.
We want to hold onto the justice roots of our historic social gospel, yet we fail to realize to do that means truth about our eugenics history, exorcising our continued ableism (see the call for ending plastic straws not knowing you are calling for ending some with disabilities- ability to drink), and reconciling to move forward as ONE children of God in the blessed rainbow (to paraphrase Desmond Tutu).
it means bringing a new lens to the old, old story. It is not reading a healing miracle as showing a “less than” ableist frame. It is seeing the miracle for the only way belonging could happen: removing of the barriers of society’s imposed cast system. It is what we need to do now. We need to look to the friends in Mark that found a way- even it meant tearing out the roof, so their friend could belong. We must look to what authentic and true belonging looks like. What needs to happen physically is simply one step. Token inclusion does not solve it. it is engaging in conversation, learning, and authentic apologizing.
It is truly understanding Brother Jesus’ statement about the person with disability being there for the glory of God, that is the one pointing the finger going “what is wrong with him?” being pointed out as the one with the issue, for they hate the image of God. The image the holy breath was breathed into on Day 6 and called Holy…in all forms.
So yes it is time to do deeper listening, but also to act to burn down the house of exclusion and fear. To fully admit the atrocity of our past, and to  become the ally for our neighbour we are called to be. It is time to truly understand that we are all different, and all holy. Is your congregation ready to shatter the barriers/traditions that continue the idea any child of God is less than?
Shalom & Namaste,

Dr. Ty Ragan
(Ended discernment for ministry almost 8 yrs ago over ableism in church)

I wish I could say that the 2018 slate of candidates for Moderator of the United Church of Canada has put a moratorium on my beliefs around the Christianities perpetuating ableism. One would think it would, especially with 34 year old Lay Candidate, Collin Phillips:

“I’ve come to see disability as just another part of the diversity of God’s Creation,” says Phillips, who uses a wheelchair and communicates via a word board. “While my disability is integral to who I am, it does not define me or my call. I know this will challenge, maybe even anger, some in the church, but I’m hoping it will deepen our understanding of inclusion.”

Meet your 2018 Moderator Candidates by Mike Milne, July-August Observer 2018 (https://www.ucobserver.org/faith/2018/07/meet_2018_moderator_nominees/)

I do hope he becomes moderator, for it would force a dialogue beyond accessibility (physically belonging in space). Hopefully challenge the outdated “must be healed to belong” b.s. of the churches and grow the circle wider (inclusion). Yet, it would take a gospel level miracle for this to happen for I do not feel the desire within the church for such a movement of the Holy Spirit in mystical discernment and understanding.

Honestly, outside of personal experience, and yes there are many progressive to conservative Christians who believe it is their right to lay hands and pray over you if you have a physically visible disability (without consent). To the idea that it is about making things accessible, but not fully comprehending the need at the most basic level that not everyone does things the same. Whether it is how they experience life (physically, mentally or spiritually) to socio-economically.  But the cynic in me grows for there have been many in leadership throughout the years who are a part of the disabilities community, and yet we are still having the same debates around RIGHT TO EXIST.

Most notably is the amount of times the UC Observer has hyped the plastic straw ban and has not been able to see beyond their own enviro-lens to a fuller belonging lens. Finally, when you can crack through you are not sure if they get it or not, and their declarative includes a surcharge (not comprehending the socio-economics of persons with disabilities).

Yes. I hope this is a breakthrough. Yes, I hope it draws the circle wider. Yet for that too. happen the church itself must wrestle with its own history and identity. It must admit that there are many great things that were birthed out of the social gospel, yet the darkest shadow of that was the plague of eugenics? Truth and reconciliation must happen on doctrine lead (Christian) pushed for locking away in institutions, less than ideology, forced sterilizations and the litany goes on.

Sadly, until that happens, it is just more lip service and tokenism, hiding in the visage of inclusion…

But refusing the most important piece of Agape—BELONGING.

Is the church ready? 

End thoughts:

  1. Considering outgoing Moderator Jordan Cantwell called for listening in this time of change…I do not see much of that in regards to the intersection of abilities.
  2. I have stood my ground as an ally for those in the mental health-disabilities community and paid the price as staff (laid off, fired, reorganized); laity/volunteer (kicked out) and friend/parent (devastated) as congregants harrassed and belittled, dehumanized those they did not see as “whole” in the Body of Christ…what would this chap as moderator mean for those within the church?
  3. Finally, Moderators travel and visit congregations– how many of the churches meet the first level of the inverted Belonging Pyramid – accessibility, and simply increase the cries of “we are so broke, we have no money.” Instead of the inward looking to community focused solutions?

Addition post General Council 43 (August 7, 2018) in Philips own words:

A moderator nominee says the majority of commissioners at General Council weren’t comfortable enough to truly engage him. Read his full thoughts here.


Time is not linear. Yes, that is how we track it, but truly we tend to circle back to our regressive roots as cultures more often than not. Almost make that break through on belonging and then BANG! door is closed. The BANG! is usually caused by a slow but steady marketing technique- foot in door. It literally started with door to door salesmen that would use the tip of their shoe to block a closing door so they could use a cold read on the customer to give an in roads to a sale.

We see it today. It is still used within group circles (religious, political and social justice jump to mind the most). In good case scenarios one can look at this technique used for things such as Universal Health Care; human rights; to name but a few.

Unfortunately it has become more familiar in the not so good realms of our societies. A United conservative party candidate recently tweeted of using the technique if they formed government to limit funding, and access to abortion.

In Trump’s America, the resurgence of Fascism started within the Christian Right Circles. First they forgave his philandering ways; Republicans made excuses for his racism and misogyny in allowing him to continue to run; then he mocked a reporter (person) with Cerebral Palsy, and it was still okay. Open and active racism had become acceptable. Apologetic of evangelical Christian faith went into full defense mode, and now there is kids in cages and people scratch their heads as to why.

It reminds me of a great Star Trek story. In the original series was an episode, “Space Seed” that had Kirk & co rescue the Botany Bay. Khan and his crew were survivors of the Eugenics Wars. Yup. Eugenics, genetically engineering to the superior species- perfection- what the Nazi & Stalinist holocausts were all about (extermination of Jews, persons with disabilities, political dissidents, multiple births (i.e twins), LGBTQ2). In the lore of ST it was a war, and Khan and his people were the outcome finally overthrown as Earth realized the horror of their ways. In good Star Trek fashion their lives are spared even after they try to capture the ship, and are left on Ceti Alpha VI to make a new way for themselves.

The sequel was probably one of the best Star Trek movies ever made: Wrath of Khan. Which brought a great quote into the universe of Trekkies:

The needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few or the one.

-Captain Spock

An older Admiral Kirk with his original lead team, on a ship of young cadets are on a mission to save the Genesis experiment (literally life from lifelessness, or reversed not so kind). The lead scientists are an old flame of Kirk’s (of course) and a son, David, he never knew of. (watch the movie, get Space Seed on Netflix, it makes for a good conversation night). The battle against regression, anger, and hatred is the battle of the Enterprise against Khan. One that costs the next generation (Scotty’s nephew is amongst the causalities). And a friendship ends.

Trekkies were rocked, as Spock died to save the ship, the crew, and be able to get the win. The inevitable hatred and belief of superiority, supremacy of one species over the other, destroyed Khan and his followers.

And you can see the idea that lefties have clung to this idea of the needs of the many can outweigh the needs of the few. So has the right. Civics 101 is simple, the political continuum is not linear, it is spherical, and extremism on both ends comes out to the same hatred filled conclusions. It begins with a simple foot in the door.

For progressives the foot in the door currently in in environmentalism. The great End Plastic Straw Ban Challenge. It is precipitated on the idea that plastic straws are evil and need to end (as well as single use plastics). It started from a horrific picture of what humans using Mother Earth as our toilet, and gutter, has done in regards to straws and turtles.

Yet it is the Khan superiority play. There is a multitude of variances or different types of straws that can be used. Many involve a higher cost (socio-economic challenges). BUT, and this is a big but…

It misses that there is a percentage of those with mental health that need single use plastic straws to overcome germ phobia when drinking.

AND

More, there is a percentage of persons with disabilities in that the only viable straw they can safely use to drink, have some type of independence, is a single use plastic straw.

(and on the socio-economic front, there is a higher percentage of persons with disabilities in the lower socio-economic spectrum)

Want to see hate outside of the Trump feeds? Check out the feeds on the straw bans.

A foot in door. Straws make up 1/10 of 1% of plastics, yet we will target it because it inconveniences the majority the least. Who cares that it actually is a life issue for some. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one. It is so much truth even Star Trek taught it.

WRONG!

The Eugenics story line was a trilogy. In Star Trek III: The Search for Spock Kirk and company literally had a chance to possibly save Spock. To allow life. There careers, and status were on the line. But if there was a chance all could move forward in life, then it was worth taking. It was not classed as rational, or logical as Spock’s decision was. It was made out of the decision of being family. Of belonging. Simply put it was the outcome that sometimes:

The needs of the few or the one, outweigh the needs of the many.

As we move the door open by foot. Let’s look at the way it was used for good. Let’s ensure we are not using it to push an agenda of passive or assertive hatred.

Let us step outside our own concern, as Star Trek showed us. Step outside our own concern, and be able to understand experience from another perspective. Be able to comprehend that even if this makes no sense to me that perhaps, simply perhaps, we need to do better as humanity.

When you hear people saying to save the world we need to ban plastic straws and celebrate as the bans roll in. As persons with disabilities go, hey but that means “me” or “my bud” can’t— BELIEVE THEM!

Stand up to the extremes that harm life.

In each of the stories of Eugenics the crew of the Enterprise had a choice to make.

They chose life.

Will you step outside of yourself, empathize, set aside your regimented ideologies and do the same?

Are you able to choose life?

Or does belonging in hate mean more no matter how pretty they make it?

 


Diversity is a beautiful thing. Belonging is the normative for diversity. The sadness of our world is that we continue to perpetuate segregation, and myths that place tolerance, accessibility, and inclusion over belonging. In essence, we continue the journey of exclusion.

The first post pointed out that the right of belonging begins by throwing out the meta-narrative society has saddled us with. The burden that we shall grieve because a child does not fit the “mold”. The mold may have changed, but the underlying eugenic concept of what is acceptable has not.

The system may lend itself to the idea of supports for belonging. Yet the goal is accessibility or inclusion in life it falls short. It creates a false patriarchal hierarchy for the disability community…follows a ladder motif. Not what is truly needed for belonging, that of a circle, a round dance if you will that can be drawn wider even still.

Other myths perpetuated by the system to be challenged:
1) Diagnosis as a prognosis for life. It is not. Diagnosis is how one experiences life. The social net provided for in the Just Society contract should, and shall, provide whatever measures are necessary for an individual and their loved ones to belong.

2) that there is a hierarchy in medical complexity. Again see point one. The challenge is by perpetuating the hierarchy it fractures the voice that should speak as one into the world. It fractures that which intersects all other demographics and voices for change. It also creates a false “bogeyman” so silence and stigma remains.

The challenge in celebrating uniqueness is knowing and living into the present moment. Challenging the glass ceilings that have become cement blocks that nothing shall ever be better. Standing in advocacy solidarity with others. And when advocating, being able to step outside one’s own experience to speak to a broader necessary perspective. Just like with everything, there is specific supports necessary, but there is also a broader voice that must be heard.

Society needs to understand that all belong, and as such: delays, bans, crass remarks, open hatred or passive dismissal are no longer tolerated. Society needs to understand we are neighbours, we are all apart of the human family.

Beyond that, no matter what diagnosis is given or not given to a person. The journey of life, the personal, the social and professional supports also shape the identity of the individual and who they become as they grow and thrive.

Are we willing to shatter the glass?

Are we going to destroy the cement?

Are we going to risk belonging for all?


Daddy, we are not disabled, my buds and me are superheroes.

-My Son, Canada Day 2018

The world continually tells parents of super-heroes as my son phrases it, to mourn how they are not “typical” or “normal”. It forces us to buy into an ableist, almost eugenics think pattern. IT IS WRONG!!! Our kids live in the “we are a burden” and “we are sorry we can’t…” mindsets, because their parents and caregivers get brainwashed out of weariness into perpetuating it upon them.

And, in my humble pastoral-monastic-psychologist-Dad perspective, it is:

HORSE SHIT!

(Yes the stuff we stepped in while feeding horses and celebrating belonging and busing earlier this month as a family, with as my son phrases them, his sidekicks).

It is time to throw off the shackles of exclusion. Burst the chains that only speak of tolerance and inclusion.

Screw that.

It is time for full on belonging. We exist in the world. The world supports all, and needs to continue to provide for dignity, inclusion, and accessibility so BELONGING is the reality…and what is the benchmark to begin with for every child and human being on this planet, in our great country of Canada, province of Alberta and City of Calgary. if belonging is not the starting point– then yes we are simply lying to ourselves, and those lies are foisted upon our children so they never feel that they are good enough, healthy enough or typical enough to belong.

As the ancient mystics warned, the sins of the parents are visited upon the children. It was not some rule following. It is the world that is created when we create camps of others, or burden, and as parents do not celebrate the beauty in life.

Whether your child or self, identifies within the community as special needs, complex learning needs, disabled, differently abled, or as my son, super hero. Know that belonging is a human right. It is where our country states we begin the conversation. The essentials needed for that to happen should never be up for debate, and that is where the fight should be. That everyone needs different things to belong, and if it is medical, holistic or social supports or equipment that are necessary for that to happen that is okay.

Each person’s path in life is different. There is no such thing as typical or normal.

It is time to celebrate our beautiful diversity that exists under the Maple Leaf, and know that he Just Society is not a myth.

On this Canada Day… Celebrate the beautiful life that exists.

spong4Parents of children with disabilities are conditioned to live in perpetual grieving and mourning. They are conditioned by a world that always views their child as deficient, less than. It creates a trauma and grief that is then foisted upon the child. It is encouraged in the religious sphere through the lens that “healing” is needed before belonging, not realizing belonging is what simply is.

For my son, he sees his super powers (blessings) as his bi-focal good eye, his rolly eye, his elasticity of speech, his Cerebral Palsy, his incredible strength of his non-paralyzed side, his ADD that aids in exploration and multi-tasking, his deep empathy and love, his simple acts of kindness.

Some say we shield because we do not have time for communities of all shapes that embrace him as the boy he is. But I ask you, why should we bother supporting communities that say he does not belong?

My son, like his sister who does life her own way, is a child of the world…and we celebrate the amazing, inquisitive, superhero he is in transforming this world for the better each and every day.

The question is to the adults of this world:

Are you ready to remove your conditioning?

Are you ready to celebrate?

 


The conversation/debate on what to salt of the past and the present for the future continues. It is no different than debates that rage today. Look at eugenics, there is passive ableism in the ban the plastic straw movement as the “cult of enviro-extremism” above all else. Not led wholly by science, but by whatever MBA has designed for best advertising (that is not a solution of reclamation, and what is causing more harm, how to reduce but support all parties ability to, well, drink)… to active atrocities such as provincial government and school board policies that see those with disabilities as less than, and those that walk the journey with them as not cognizant of having the same supports as others because it is the “life chosen”. Let that settle in as you hear the words that come, and some discourse for the 21st century around them.

It will also be hard to ingest, when you see how clearly the true intent of the teaching had been used even back then, twisted, to literalist laws that created caste systems of “worthy” for aid and esteem and those to be cast aside or “not worthy”. A myth that still perpetuates today. I could just imagine Brother Jesus (or any of the saints) speaking out on the anit-vaxxer campaigns. Debunked science that stated vaccines lead to disability. Or to be more direct “your entire argument is the worst thing in the world is not a horrible death by measles/small pox or being patient zero in such a calamity—but to be neuroatypical.” Try to tell me eugenics is not alive and well. The scary part is the drive within parental choice of health care and refusal of care of children how much is driven out of the Christianities. Pause and think as you read the discourse on what was causing harm to the people of Jesus’ day. Pause and ponder what has been twisted to harm our world today.

Who is the outcast/untouchable of our modern caste system?

21 “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister,[e] you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult[f] a brother or sister,[g] you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell[h] of fire. 23 So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister[i] has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister,[j] and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court[k] with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

-Matthew 5:21-26

Anger to murder. That literal law is fairly clear. The outcome action of murder was covered in the Hebrew Bible in the eye for an eye, etc (the pro-life explanation of death penalty support). But what if its more? Avoid escalation. Use collaboration. Discuss. Open up the view points, look for common good. Know that when an offense happens, once the debt is paid it is paid, but that does not remove the kernel of what caused the original murder. What started the anger or pain that began the plotting?

What allowed you to see the other as the most vile thing possible in the world? What allows you to see the other as deficient? What allows you to hide behind laws passed that state a caste system of value for the person? It is seen across political spectrums still today, and administrators may say “yes it is needed, but”…apologists for the existing system come in all forms, even from those that may require the system do more. It is beaten in apathy. How do we understand so much about abuser cycles? It happens so much communally, we allow it to be accepted.

The root of anger is the battle for belonging or superiority.

What battle is the one worthy?

What wolf as the ancient teaching goes should we feed?

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.[l] 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.[m]

31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

-Matthew 5:27-32

The most abusive texts ever used. The only way to cease a marriage is due to adultery. Failing to realize that it is adultery upon the “property” in the ancient marriage contract-the woman. These are the words challenging the status quo of the day, and are still used within circles to say that the only way to dissolve a religious marriage is due to infidelity.

Really? Or is it the challenge that the only reason the marriage contract existed then was to ensure propagation of breeding rights, and the just payment to family, and insurance shame would not be brought upon the selling family by the woman being cast out? Essentially, it was all about purchasing the one you believed would create the best-off spring for your family legacy. What kind of practice does that sound like?

The teaching here is driving home the point the contract is not about this. It is about care, belonging, home, family whether or not children were possible. It is about equity, equality, and justice. Why else would he bring right hand in? The dominant hand used for assault (domestic violence) or the eye (seeing that leads to forcefully taking something else)… and even the legal mechanism being a farce for it leaves one party less than the other.

Are the words burning? The inequity of the world back then? Does it resonate in our world today? What would the words be in these teachings today? What is the literal law of the land that perpetuates violence, hatred and less than-person-hood?

What do you hear from your world?

How does the circle of accountability need to be drawn wider?

How does the circle of healing need to danced?

How does the circle of belonging change for your living room?


“You have an overinflated sense of responsibility for others”

            -Dix, Psychologist (Jesse Stone series)

            I have been journeying through neurologically triggered PTSD. Let me tell you it is not a fun set of events to relive the negative of one’s life. This journey is not about bragging or self-aggrandizement. It is for the 99.9% of times my brain reboots and says you have not made a difference in the little corner of your world, I have a critically laid out path to go maybe I did, maybe I didn’t but damn it brains the heart knows I tried.  Hence the walk through the idea of how many times experts/elites, whom we have defaulted to have told me not to bother, or I am wrong and my stubborn streak has gone in the vernacular of my redneck roots, “hold my beer bud and watch this.”

I point out the default to “elites/experts” because it is the shift society has made to the idea of quantitative data only, and zero-based budgeting which makes every person, every story something that must be quantified by a statistical number and/or cash pay out. Essentially a new way of doing the old pedagogy of worthy poor, worthy citizen for aid or elevation. Which I am sorry, if you enter the trenches, bash the knuckles, bloody the soul, wipe the tears away, hold the hand of the dying, cradle the body in the last gasps of the death rattle, these are things that you will always question.

            Why?

Simple, we as people are not a statistical number, we are not a label. Our worth does not come from what we cost or save the system. Our worth comes from something very simple. Being human. Our worth is inherent because of whom we are, a human being regardless of whether it is a spiritual, religious or scientific path that brings you to that understanding.

How does that change the lens you view things through? Who are your experts/elites? Your gurus? Are they coaches? Clerics? Scientists? Ideologues? Celebrities? Who do you allow to shape your world view? Why do you allow them to shape your world view? The Stanford Experiments tried to prove why the horror of Nazism happened, and the outcome was the default for the human being to believe the man in the white coat. The expert or the elite. The one that has power. Sadly, nothing has changed except whom we give the power in our lives. We forget that behind every “white coat” there is a grass roots movement of support that has bestowed that power on them and can strip it away if we default back to the total truth that worth is inherent and we as a species are in this together interconnected through an eco-system of beautiful mystery.

My words of the struggle for a better world dreamed are throughout this site, with the oldest being found in the archives and through these meanderings you can see how even after decades simple battles for inclusion are still being battled. 31 years of my life have been given to this journey, and looking to enter the second decade of my 2/3 of life, I know the journey will continue. But it is a journey where story of the quest needs to re-emerge, where we as societies need to move beyond balance sheets, labels and metrics to understanding what/who is our neighbour. So what follows is some simple musings of issues facing us as a community:

“Don’t call me a saint, I do not want to be so easily dismissed.”

-Dorothy Day, Founder Catholic Worker’s Movement, Single Mum

 

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I encourage you to buy Warren Kinsella’s first fiction work Recipe for Hate, based around true events in the Neo-Nazi-Punk world, for those more of the non-fiction type his seminal work Web of Hate on Canada’s neo-nazi movement in Canada (it inspired me int he `90’s to fight the good fight, and take stands against elites/experts that yes this was a necessary battle)…and why this hit me is seeing the fact that my own hood actually had to have an anti-racist walk yesterday…thank you for those that turned out (my heart was willing–the body and brain decided it was a no sadly)…we are the northeast, we are the world in a few city blocks, we are better than hate, because we know what it means to love your neighbour and be neighbourly. End sermon

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I also encourage reflection for those ideological entrenched on recent Canadian political history as we prepare to repeat in Alberta. In the early 2000’s the PC Canada party was taken over by the Reform-Alliance in media mirrors of a merger vote that saw Red Tories left politically homeless. Some would say it was successful as the Harper Cons eventually won power with their first minority government in February 2006. But just reflect on that for a moment for a party trying to root out corruption, and build inclusion with our First Nations through the Kelowna Accord, lost to a party that sided with the separatists to shut down parliament and strip Canadians of our Constitutional right of Peace, Order and Good Governance. No one else may realize how it will be written by the historians, but also, I do still firmly believe Minority Parliaments are the healthiest forms of governance for our country for it forces the politicians out of ideological blinders to truly what is best for the citizens.

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The fight over Harm Reduction versus abstinence in addiction treatment is just one of the false dichotomies we attempt to foist upon the public. Each treatment resonates with certain individuals (I can just hear the Twitter-soundbite politicos gasp) for it is about understanding the person in front of you and what works for them to be healthy.

It also moves into the idea that triage/silo health care does not always work. The human being is a holistic microcosm that does need to be treated as such. Yes, some things need to be prioritized within medical treatment, but somethings are interdependent, intertwined, co-dependent or simply co-existing. Ala addiction—the use of substance or behaviour creates the label, what causes it is rooted deeper whether you cease or stop the behaviour the actual cause whether emotional, physiological, neurological, etc (or all of the above) needs to be treated or we are setting the neighbour up for failure.

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Housing. Our nation needs a strategy, I know several federal parties at certain points have had policies (as I have been part of writing groups for these parties). Yet what is missing is the fundamental of Housing First principle 1: Consumer choice. (or better yet, citizen choice). It needs to be a policy and action that looks at affordable spectrums of home ownership (types of homes-house, condo, mobile) to apartments to lodges without age restrictions to group homes to supportive housing to hotels (yes hotels, many of the chronically homeless have come to shelters because they lived in hotels that closed down, where some money could have seen these places brought up to code, and some extra monies to the owners could have curbed settling in of unsavoury elements) to name but a few. Also, the idea of rooming houses ran by seniors is also something to be looked at, or on-site living in convents/monastic communities, or in shops/warehouses, mini houses…secondary suites, laneway housing, converted garages, the list goes on and on.

Yet it takes a citizen will to force politicians to challenge city planning back to a community and citizen focus and away from money politics.

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In the case of Health Care especially in Alberta we tend to forget that we were governed by a party set on Privatization (breaking the Health Act) through the Third Way that essentially created a system for failure, never forget history or we are doomed to repeat it. On an aside stating you never voted PC, or never voted does not remove your complicity from the state of our province now, for we are all citizens that allowed a party to run our province. Whether it is oil, health care, AB works or other social safety nets, are designed for those moments in life when you need them, not for when you do not. What we have done as a society is create a shame based system so those in need avoid and costs sky rocket for the person literally comes to the precipice of disaster before access and then is in a full cycle that is harder to get out of. And yes I was forced out of a job by taking a stance publicly for universal health care.

I still firmly believe active eugenics may have stopped in Alberta, but seeing how easily the Calgary Board of Education can blame special needs students for budget short falls, how hard it is to access AISH or lack of mental health supports, that passive eugenics is still practice.

And let us not forget the closure of the horrid institutions that if proper protocol was followed would have seen transition of those folks to proper home, group home or smaller care home placements in the community…but instead say nothing but shelter beds…because…eliminating the debt.

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Calgary City Hall is looking to cut preventative programs for at risk youth and seniors while continuing the shadowy no firm numbers exploration of an Olympic bid. Makes you wonder where following the money trail would take you? Also makes you wonder in a generation with these policies how our city will be judged by the way we have treated our young and elders?

Yet this is not new practice at City Hall, for when the Child Sex trade exploded in our city in the mid-90’s what the response was—cover up, cutting vice unit budgets… hmmm…. Lip service, not actions. My high school law teacher asking me when presented with the facts about the child sex trade saying the assignment was to show what is controversial about it? My response led me to being kicked from class that day when I simply stated, “the only wanker that can’t see the controversy based on the facts is the one that goes to the pizza parlour back room in our hood and asks for the child.”

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Political party vetting when I ran in 2006 that saw the questioner unable to comprehend how I could be pro-choice on abortion without using the buzzwords. Yes I believe in a woman’s control over their own body, yes I believe in the family, and I believe we need to build a world in which every child conceived should be wanted and until that happens then this needs to be free and open to all who desire, need or want.

I also believe that the government needs to invest in a system or pre- and post- procedure counselling and healing of the holistic person. I believe we need a freer adoption service. I also believe the pre- and post-procedure aid needs to be open to the one that gave the egg, the one that gave the sperm, and those that may be affected by the ripples within the family.

But I will never say I am anti-abortion for. Yes, this is after coming from a position where an ex who was so lost in addiction made the choice to abort and her only rationale was to inflict pain on me who chose to not come second to a chemical.

I also firmly state I am pro-life with dignity. Which is why I so easily can stand and argue that medically assisted death is a necessity within our system so human life is one with dignity, for it I would not let my fur baby suffer in such a way, why would I let my loved one.

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The continual move away from city accessibility. In Calgary our at home garbage/recycle/compost system is designed for new communities with attached garages, and condos. Yet also falls short in understanding challenges of constantly carrying out buckets of compost in established neighbourhoods. The reduction in garbage pick up removing dignity of the person for those with continence challenges as their garbage output is not reduced but now the overflow is on view for the whole of their neighbours to see.

Yet with some thought, and work at a provincial wide level perhaps we could expand the recycle from house program, thus truly reducing garbage so the bi-weekly pick up can work. The expansion could shift as other provinces have done so the monies from recyclables pay for the program, thus  reducing costs to citizens. Then expand to multi-unit dwellings so it becomes cost neutral so this type of bylaw does not increase rents.

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That at the end of World War 2 my Great-Granddad Lewis who was a veteran of both wars battled for the Commonwealth to care for its veterans appropriately, and during my tenure in the world I have fought the same battle in the 21st century. This is a staunch reminder, war needs to be the last resort, and one that we enter into realizing that we need to be prepared to care for those that give some, and those that give all…also this needs to carry through to those we send out to peace keep for they enter the hell mouth as well.

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Look to the Alberta Government looking at removing age restrictions on housing stating it is a human rights issue. The realization is not understanding the complexity of the issue when it comes to congregate (condo/apartment living).

At the very least, if a person or couple have moved to a building believing it is kid free, and they chose to live there because of this a new family that moves in you are setting them up for harassment and complaints. A situation that may only end with one side or the other being evicted. Sadly, an eviction for whatever reason creates an issue on re-housing.

At the worst, you are setting up a place for predators. Sadly, those that abuse children and prey on them do not spend their life in jail. Upon release, they need to be housed, with this new legislation you are removing a housing option that keeps our communities’ safe…yet…

It is also short sighted, in that there are also many folks with the psychological predilection for children (due to trauma or neurology) that choose to work with Alberta Health to keep themselves and others safe. Using pharmaceuticals and other therapies, but also building a life that keeps them away from children as much as possible. Now comes this new bill…and…

Sound bites and twitter politics over critical thought of the best of the whole.

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That over 20 years after I got my knuckles bloody defending my op-ed piece in the Calgary Sun over a person’s right to love and marry whom they choose (and multiple thousand death threats) …both our governing and Loyal Opposition parties still distract by fighting this battle over again thus distracting from more core issues. (yes, for those doing the math, my 18th birthday was when the editorial I wrote in support of marriage equality came out). Why did I write this? I remember sitting with my Nan, when US President Bill Clinton announced he was against it, and her tears and simple statement that maybe if our world were more accepting and Christian as Jesus taught her lovely cousin would not have taken his life. So I took a stand, and took the lumps that came with it.

I am going to be blunt, when it came to clubs I was a part of in public school, the only time my parents needed to be contacted was when we were leaving the school so both sides were creating news and not holding true to the sanctity of learning, growth and discovery of the child. The only time parents were contacted about school behaviours were when they put myself or another at risk.

For those that try to blind with extremism, ideology or religion, let the war bride’s words ring in your ears. If our world was more Christian…love would win, and whom you love would not matter.

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The constant reminder that user fees are a flat tax on the working and poverty classes. A reminder that when political parties speak of the middle class, it is an innocuous term used to gain votes, but pragmatically roles out to households making over 100K a year, thus not the average Canadian.

A reminder that our natural resources do not belong to companies or politicians but to the citizens and need to be leveraged for OUR benefit above all else. That our Constitution Act 1982 does need to be re-opened, a social charter that was originally removed at the behest of Lougheed needs to be reinserted, and the division of powers in Section 91 & 92 needs to be looked at for the reality of Canada in a globalized world and things like Health Care and Education need to be in Federal jurisdiction as we are stabilized at about 30ish million people.

We need to take a serious look at the abolish of the reserve system and either incorporating into the Constitution territories of provinces for First Nations depending on population size (ala Nunavut).

We also need to realize that we only get the representation we are entitle to as Canadians, when we realize the local representative should hold the power of the vote. Party whips and Cult Leader politics are the Americanizing of our democracy to our detriment. As well, for it to work properly the elections acts need to be amended so the candidate needs to live in the electoral district at whichever level it is defined; PACS, union and corporate donations are abolished. Actually, all donations are. Each candidate must attend a set number of debates, public media must carry local candidate ads, interviews and discourses so that the public can be informed. If we really want a throw back perhaps the UFA system should be implemented in which a leader is not elected until all MP’s or MLA’s are elected (like the Constitution dictates) …but let’s take some giant baby steps first. Once the system functions the way it is laid out to, then we can look beyond a first past the post system to other voting systems.

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These thoughts continue to crop in my mind like I said as I look back on a life of work to try and build a new world, then the reboot hits and the brain lies to the heart stating that it has all been for nought.

On the grand scale still seeing the pain that exists within our world, yes it may appear as failure. Yet the failure is in stopping to raise the issue that we are all in this together.

These are musings that rest on my heart and are leading me to another pragmatic spiritual work as I look back on history of the sector I have worked in. If one spends time with the writings of J.S. Woodsworth and how his shelter functioned in Winnipeg at the turn of the 20th century, and then look at our system today you can come to a simple conclusion, all that has changed is our mats are thicker. 100+ years on, what needs to change?

We still haven’t answered the core question of his work, for we still look at the person in need, in pain, in sickness, in jail and in our homes, communities’ and lives.

The central question?

The one I have spent a life attempting to unpack, and will be the focus of my next pragmatic memoir?

Who is My Neighbour?

JS